All the resorts offer snorkelling trips as part of their vacation package and rent out snorkelling equipment like masks, snorkel and life jackets (around RM30 for the whole set per stay). Young children, the elderly and even non-swimmers can enjoy snorkelling. Just put on a lifejacket, mask and snorkel and jump into the water. While there are powered masks and child-sized life jackets for rental, these are limited. If fit and hygiene are important, you may prefer to bring your own.
On boat snorkelling trips, there will be snorkelling guides accompanying snorkellers to ensure the site is safe and free from currents and also to render assistance. Sometimes, bread is provided for snorkellers to feed the fish. For those snorkelling on your own off the beach, there are no guides or lifeguards, so do so at your own risk.
Probably the busiest house reef is around Tanjung Tengah in Pasir Panjang. The southern side is commonly known as 'Shark Bay' as the reefs there are a nursery for baby black-tip sharks. April to August seems to be the best time to spot these shark pups, up to a dozen of them. Also resident to this reef are schooling needlefish, a few turtles, squid, an orange-striped triggerfish, a resident barracuda and the other coomon reef fishes.
Due to the popularity and easy accessibility of this house reef, it has suffered quite a lot of damage over the years particularly the corals nearer shore. During low tide, the corals are in very shallow water and are easily damaged through physical contact with snorkellers when they stand on them or kick them accidentally, especially when wearing booties or fins. As a result, fins are no longer rented out to snorkellers. To protect these fragile corals, snorkel carefully, don't go too near the corals and for your own safety, do not snorkel beyond the floating white markers where you may put yourself in the path of boats.
Tanjung Mak Cantik
This house reef located at southern Pasir Panjang starts at the front beach of Redang Reef Resort and goes around the rocky outcrop to the back beach of the resort. Due to its location, it sees fewer visitors compared to Shark Bay. It is easier to get in the water and explore this reef from the front beach of the resort. Just get in the water and head right along the rocky outcrop. Look out for resident stingrays hiding under rocks or table coral, titan triggerfish, squid, porcupine fish, giant grouper, clams, christmas tree coral and the occasional turtle.
Alternatively, one can also start from the rear beach and head out with the outcrop to your left. Going around the outcrop should be left to experienced snorkellers as the water can get a little choppy once you reach the side facing the open sea.
Marine Park Centre
The Marine Park Centre is the most popular snorkelling destination and can be crowded during peak visiting season. At 3-6m deep,the area around the jetty at the Marine Park Centre in Pulau Pinang is covered mainly with hard corals and offers easy access to a large variety of marine life that are resident among the PVC pipes of the artificial reef directly under the jetty, the most popular being the resident giant grouper and moray eel.
This place has the largest concentration of fishes in any single location probably due to the fact that many visitors feed the fish. Expect plenty of hungry damselfish, sergeant majors, wrasses, parrotfish and the resident triggerfish seeking food handouts from visitors. Just be careful not to get your fingers mistaken for food! Napolean wrasses are occasionally spotted to the west of the jetty, as are adult blacktip sharks.
To the east of the jetty is a shipwreck lying in about 8-10 metres of water with part of it visible above the water surface. The coral encrusted structures make it an interesting place to explore. Just be careful not to scratch yourself on the metal structures and avoid touching the stinging hydroids that grow on the wreck. It's many crevices and hiding places are home to moray eels, giant groupers, batfish and angelfish. Be careful of currents when swimming out to the wreck - it is best to avoid visiting it when there are currents. Also keep within the white marker buoys as there are strong currents sweeping through the channel between Pulau Pinang and Pulau Redang.
Other snorkelling sites
There is a housereef located in front of Redang Holiday Resort around the rocks below their hillview chalets. From their frontbeach, head left following the rocky shoreline.
The resorts at Teluk Kalong also have housereefs in slightly deeper waters. The waters in front of Redang Kalong resort near their jetty is another nursery for baby black tip sharks which can be seen from the jetty without getting wet, especially if one attracts them with food. At Amannaggapa and Mutiara resorts, the reefs are around the rocky outcrops on either side of the resorts.
Over at Teluk Dalam in front of Taaras resort, coral reefs are located to the sides of the U-shaped bay, so snorkellers have to swim further to access them. The bay in front comprises mainly sandy bottom and seagrass areas and is devoid of coral.
All these housereefs see fewer visitors and are expected to be in better condition than those at Tanjung Tengah and Tanjung Mak Cantik. There are also other snorkelling sites at Pulau Paku, Pulau Lima and other areas but these are only accessible by boat.
Juvenile monitor lizard along the Pasir Panjang access road. Pasir Panjang access road signboard and road near Pelangi and Coral resorts. Trekking through island trails in Pulau Redang is probably one of the best ways to appreciate the island's flora and fauna, some of which are rare species, though to see these, it's best to engage the help of local trekking guides. For the casual trekker, some of the more popular routes are listed below.
Trek 1: Village road
Distance: 3km one-way.
Difficulty: Flip-flop easy.
This route connects Taaras (Berjaya) resort to the Kampung jetty. If you are a guest at Taaras (Berjaya) resort and flew into Redang on Berjaya Air or arrived by public ferry at the Kampung jetty, you would have passed through this road. This route goes past the village, the airstrip and Redang river. Along the way, you'll see sheep, goats and other domestic animals and flora like pitcher plants and mangrove forests. Monitor lizards can be found along the river banks.
Trek 2: Pasir Panjang access road
Distance: 1.5km one-way.
Difficulty: Flip-flop easy.
This route is along the paved access road behind the resorts at Pasir Panjang. This road, built in 2010, connects Teluk Bakau where Laguna's jetty is located to Redang Holiday Resort, covering the entire length of Pasir Panjang beach. The main purpose of this road is for visitors and supplies to be transferred by road from the jetty to the rear of each resort, particularly when weather conditions make it difficult to do so from the front beach. To get to this road from the jetty, head left till you see the large signboard showing distances to the various resorts, then turn right towards the tall cellphone tranmission tower by the side of Laguna's staff quarters. To access this road from the other end of Pasir Panjang, head into Redang Holiday resort, go past the dining area till you come to the single-storey bungalow units, then turn left and follow the paved road next to the double-storey guest accommodations. A recommended round-trip would be to use the paved road one way and come back by the front beach.
Trek 3: Pasir Panjang to Teluk Dalam Trekking to Teluk Dalam through the forest.
Distance: 2km one-way.
Difficulty: Moderately easy but wear shoes or sandals.
This moderately well trodden and marked path connects Pasir Panjang and Teluk Dalam where Taaras (Berjaya) Resort is located. The route goes through the forest and has a few uphill and downhill sections. From the paved access road behind the resorts at Pasir Panjang, look for the start of the path somewhere between Redang Bay and Coral Redang resorts marked by water and electrical conduits heading into the forest. The other end passes a mangrove swamp and opens into the far corner of Teluk Dalam Besar, the empty beach next to Berjaya's beach. On this trail, you'll pass large dipterocarpus trees. If you're unsure of the route, check with your resort staff for guided treks on this route.
Trek 4: Pasir Panjang to Teluk Kalong Teluk Bakau bay.
Distance: 0.8km one-way.
Difficulty: Easy but best to wear sandals.
This trail connects Pasir Panjang and the north beach at Teluk Kalong where Redang Kalong resort is located. From Laguna's jetty, head down to the beach at Teluk Bakau and go around the bay about 200m until you're near the end, then follow a trail leading inland and head left towards the beach. You will emerge at one end of Teluk Kalong beach, then walk along the beach till you come to Redang Kalong resort. Currently there is no easy path connecting this part of Kalong beach to the next beach where Amannagappa resort is located - you'll have to trek about 0.5km through the forest. However, once you get to Amannagappa, there is a walkway that goes around the rocky outcrop to the southern Kalong beach where Mutiara resort is located.
Trek 5: Tanjung Tengah Entrance to Tanjung Tengah path (top) and view from the top of Tanjung Tengah.
Distance: 150m uphill.
Difficulty: Moderately difficult. Slippery during wet weather.
Located right in the middle of Pasir Panjang beach, Tanjung Tengah offers lovely panoramas of Pasir Panjang, the sea and the surrounding islands. This trail is not well-marked and requires climbing over rocks, so it is best avoided during wet weather when it can be slippery. The entrance to this trail is almost at the end of the beach at Shark Bay facing Redang Beach resort. It may not be immediately obvious as it is a narrow passage flanked by large rocks. You'll know you're on the right track when you see some steep rocks with a blue rope. The rope is old and frayed so test it first before you use it to help you negotiate the rocks during the initial steeper part of the climb. Around mid-level, there are different branches that take you to either the southern or northern views of Pasir Panjang. You may have to negotiate shrubs and branches to get to the higher levels. Right at the top, there is a concrete marker placed by the Malaysian Survey and Mapping Department.
For the more adventurous, check with your resort staff how to get up to hilltops and rocky cliffs along the eastern ridge that offer spectacular overhead views of Pasir Panjang and Teluk Kalong. There are also treks on Pulau Pinang where the Marine Park Centre is located. If you intend to go off the beaten track, you should get a guide to lead you to avoid getting lost. With mobile signals now easily available on the island, bring a mobile phone with you when you trek just in case you need to call for emergencies.
What to see while trekking
Pulau Redang consists of 2 hilly ridges, the western ridge with 4 hills and the eastern ridge with 3 hills. Between these 2 ridges flows Sungei Redang, the main river on Redang whose estuaries in the intertidal zone (neither land nor sea) are lined with one of the largest islandic mangrove forests in the East Coast of Malaysia.
Mangroves are ecologically important and biodiverse as both terrestrial and marine life converge here. They are a natural refuge, breeding and feeding ground for many fishes, molluscs and crustaceans. It is believed that more than half of deep-sea fish spend some life stage in the mangroves. Mangroves also control erosion, dissipating waves that would otherwise erode the soil. At the upper reaches of Sungei Redang is a small freshwater swamp forest, one of two on the island, the other located at Teluk Dalam. Sago palms are quite common along Sungei Redang.
The flora on Redang include 16 species of wild orchids, several of which are considered rare. Of all the different places on Redang that was surveyed, it was found that Teluk Dalam had the largest diversity of orchids. Redang also contains quite a wide array of traditional medicinal plants, such as the tongkat ali. Forest vegetation on the northeastern shore are exposed to constant winds, especially during the high-wind northeast monsoon season. The result is that the trees are stunted, gnarled and lean in the direction of the wind.
Breadfruit trees (locally known as sukun), with their large decorative leaves, are found abundantly on Pulau Pinang, having been introduced by early villagers on the island. This fruit was involved in the famous saga known as 'Mutiny on the Bounty' when Captain William Bligh of the 'Bounty' attempted to transport breadfruit trees to Jamaica to feed starving slaves - his crew mutinied and set him adrift. The versatile breadfruit is rich in carbohydrates and can be eaten boiled, roasted, braised, dried or powdered. The local villagers fry thin slices of the fruit to make chips, while thick chunks can be baked or fried and served with butter and syrup. Trees usually bear fruit in August and these fruits attract bats, squirrels and other local fauna that feed on them.
As with other islands, the fauna on Redang is impoverished compared to the mainland. No large animals are found. Domestic goats and sheep are probably the largest mammals. The rest of the island's fauna include macaque monkeys, the shy mousedeer (kancil), 8 species of bats, several rodents, different species of lizards including the large water monitor, over 50 species of birds including migrants, 4 species of crabs, 84 species of butterflies and other insects.
Among the common bird species found on Redang are the olive-backed sunbird, dark-necked tailorbird, terns, pink-necked pigeon, swiftlets and white-bellied sea eagles. Both black-nest swiftlets and white-nest swiftlets make their nests in the many cliffs and sea caves on Redang and their edible birds' nests are occasionally harvested for consumption as a medicinal tonic. To protect the young birds and the population of swiftlets, harvesting only takes place when the fledgling birds have left the nest.
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